Mother warns parents after her baby chokes to death on a balloon


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INDIANAPOLIS — An Indianapolis mother whose baby died after choking on a balloon wants to warn other parents about the danger.

“I would’ve never had them in my house. It’s not worth it,” said Katie Chamberlain.

Chamberlain and her four boys had been filling up water balloons outside their east side home on a warm day in May when somehow one stray balloon was brought inside.

“It was just so fast. I couldn’t even get to him fast enough before the balloon was gone and he couldn’t breathe anymore,” Chamberlain said.

Just a few steps away, she rushed to give 9-month-old Justin CPR.

“As soon as I was there he was already turning blue,” Chamberlain said.

But it was too late.

Doctors at IU Health say balloons are one of most deadly choking hazards for children.

“Out of our choking accidents worldwide, or nationwide, the most common object is a balloon to result in a fatal accident,” said Dr. Edgar Petras, IU Health Emergency Medicine Pediatric Specialist.

According to, children can choke on balloons when they breathe them in when trying to blow up the balloon, or when they chew on deflated balloons or scraps of popped balloons.

To prevent young children from choking on balloons:

  • Use mylar instead of latex balloons
  • If you use latex balloons, store them out of reach of children; don’t let children blow them up; and throw out deflated balloons and pieces of popped balloons.

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